| Telegram & Gazette
The pandemic has altered our lives in so many ways. Case in point, the frustration of not being able to travel where or when you choose is affecting people from every corner of the globe. For folks like myself that would include trips to you’re favorite wine destination as well.
However, you can still experience the thrill of visiting a winery and taking part in its on premise wine tasting right from the comforts of your own home. So-called virtual wine tastings are fast becoming a unique alternative, especially for those who are die-hard wine lovers. Since the onset of COVID-19 many wineries across the country have either suspended or limited in-person attendance at their tasting rooms. To compensate, many have started to offer virtual tours and tastings, giving wine lovers access to an event that in the past would have required considerable time, travel and expense.
What makes these virtual experiences so unique is that oftentimes they’re hosted by the winery owner or winemakers who are directly involved in both the conversation and the tasting. Best of all, you don’t have to be an industry expert or VIP to get up close and personal. Upon registering you’ll be guided through a number of wines especially selected for the virtual event. These two-way video conferences are specifically designed to allow invited guests to interact with the winery staff while learning about its history and manner of operation.
Even here in Worcester County a number of liquor shops have begun hosting virtual tastings where once again connecting with winemakers and sommeliers is the name of the game. In fact, many of the wines featured during these events can be found at your local wine shop, so be sure to check them out. Then, on the designated date and time, log on, uncork a bottle and enjoy the program.
Last year I participated in two virtual wine tastings, one with Justin Vineyards in Paso Robles, California, where founder Justin Baldwin and NFL legend Jerry Rice led wine lovers through a very enjoyable discussion and sampling of wines. The other was hosted by Sebastiani winery in Sonoma Valley, California. Both are well-regarded producers who have a long track record for quality.
Some virtual tastings have expanded formats in which cooking classes from estate chefs, featuring recipes explicitly designed to pair with the wines, are included. Other wineries offer live music concerts and vineyard tours at their virtual events. Simply put, there’s a little something for everyone.
Just a few years ago most people would have frowned upon the idea of virtual wine tastings conducted over platforms like Zoom. Today though, you’re likely to find enthusiasts from all walks of life holding up a glass and then swirling, sniffing and of course sipping wine from their very own living rooms.
Looking ahead, it appears that many wineries plan to continue and expand their virtual offerings even after they reopen to the public. Connecting with wine lovers virtually has proven to be an effective marketing tool.
So what are you waiting for? There’s a virtual world of wine out there just hoping to connect with you. Cheers!
Wine of the week: 2018, Gary Farrell Pinot Noir, California. Bright ruby in color with delicate aromas of ripe cherry. Smooth and flavorful with red fruit flavors and crisp acidity. Pairs nicely with duck, pork, salmon, or mushrooms. $37